“I wish one day we could wake up one morning and hear that the road signs are being fixed, traffic lights are on, road marks are in, reflectors are working; but no, we only wake up to death, death, death”, a young resident of Adenta lamented bitterly in the aftermath of yet another death on the N4 Highway caused by a hit and run.

Official statistics from the Ghana Police Service indicates that there have been 24 persons killed and 164 injured on the N4 Highway in the year 2018. However, the residents dispute this claim and place the number of deaths within a region of a staggering 190. This is quite alarming, considering the fact that these figures are for just November, 2017 to November, 2018.

In the past few weeks the youth of Adenta, and its environs have been agitated by what they consider as the governments lack of concern to their plight. They are enraged by the numerous incidents of “hit and run” in their community. Their frustration stems from the fact that their pleas for the completion of the six footbridges on the Madina – Adenta stretch of the N4 Highway seems to have fallen on deaf ears. According to them these footbridges which have been left uncompleted for close to a decade now would have at least curtailed these rampant incidents of hit and run on the highway.

Some few weeks ago, the residents, through their Assemblyman, Mr. Rashid Osei-Bonsu gave an ultimatum to the Ministry of Roads and Highways and other relevant state agencies to immediately commence works on these uncompleted footbridges, failing which they will embark on a demonstration to make their frustrations known. Things however came to a head on Thursday, the 8th of November, 2018 when another “hit and run” occurred on the highway resulting in the death of Ms. Mariam Kassim, a 19 year old student of West Africa Senior High School (WASS),

This immediately sparked a spontaneous protest that same evening, which lead to the angry youth in the area blockading the highway. Even though this protest wass unlawful, it must however be placed in context, which is that the residents were simply fed up with the seemingly unnecessary accidents on this road. Miss Mariam Kassim’s unfortunate demise was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It seems that, the exercise of their right to demonstrate as provided for in Article 21(1)(d) of the 1992 Constitution, albeit unlawful, did at least, get a response from the government. Within 24 hours, street lights were back on again, after several months of darkness on that stretch. Also, a joint press statement was immediately released by an Inter-ministerial Committee on Roads & Highways, Transport and Interior, to the effect that work on the footbridges will commence within a week.

The question then arises that, do citizens need to demonstrate before state institutions do their job?

In my opinion, pending the completion of these footbridges the various institutions responsible for ensuring safety on our numerous roads and highways must be up and doing. They have roles to play in preventing the needless loss of lives on our highways.

Section 32(1) of the Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350) stipulates that:

A superior police officer or any other police officer so authorized by a superior police officer may, for the purpose of preserving public order and safety stop, divert or otherwise direct and regulate the flow of traffic.”

The question then is, do the police regularly doing their job? The obvious answer to this is No. I believe a regular execution of their mandate would have prevented most, if not all, of these casualties.

Also the objects of the National Road safety Commission are listed under Section 2 of the National Road Safety Commission Act, 1999 (Act 567). These include:

  1.  Undertake nationwide road safety education; and
  2.  Advise the Minister on the formulation of road safety policies and action programs.

Is road safety education done regularly and how widespread is it? How effective have these functions been performed?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority also has as its object to promote good diving standards in the country, and ensure the use of roadworthy vehicles on the roads and in any other public places. This is provided for under section 2 of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing authority Act, 1999 (Act 569). Are they carrying out their functions effectively?

The purpose of citing these numerous laws is not to shift attention from the need to complete these footbridges, neither is it to assign blame to anyone. These laws were highlighted to ensure that all stakeholders sit up and carry out their lawful mandates and ensure that the right things are done on our roads.

In all these happenings, one thing has become very clear, the authorities in this country are in most situations reactive to problems facing the citizenry rather than proactive. As indicated by Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng in his article, Life beyond the footbridges… published in the 13th November edition of the Daily Graphic, the government, through its agents, including the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), the Ghana Police Service, and the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Authority, must all come together and bring the full coercive powers of the state to bear on recalcitrant drivers and pedestrians.

All that is required to build our nation is for everyone to play an active part in its development. The numerous institutions of State mandated by our laws to ensure safety on our roads should sit up and do their work. If not, as demonstrated by the protests which took place a week ago at Adenta, citizens who are clearly fed up with their inactivity will find other means of drawing their attention to their plight.

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